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Godbold, Oklahoma KO St. Joseph's

Mar 22, 2008 - 3:29 AM BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Ticker) -- David Godbold was not ready for his career to end.

Godbold scored a career-high 25 points to lead sixth-seeded Oklahoma to a 72-64 victory over St. Joseph's in a first-round East Regional game of the NCAA Tournament.

Longar Longar added 14 points for the Sooners (23-11), who built a 19-point lead and held off a furious comeback by the Hawks.

Oklahoma will face the winner of Louisville-Boise State in a second-round game Sunday.

"I thought we got off to good start in the first half, especially the way we closed the half to have a 12-point lead at halftime," Sooners coach Jeff Capel said. "We came out and really got after it and we were able to extend the lead. We knew St. Joseph's was going to make a run. They're a very good basketball team."

Godbold, who entered the tournament averaging 6.9 points and had scored in double figures just once in his last 11 games, singlehandedly put 11th seed St. Joseph's (21-13) in a huge hole.

The senior guard scored 11 points, including three 3-pointers, in the first 2:45 of the second half to carry the Sooners to a commanding 45-26 lead.

"I don't know about career, but I say it's a pretty good game," said Godbold, who had been coming off the bench for most of the latter stages of the season. "Offense comes and goes. I know there's four other guys that can step up any other day, so it was just my day today, and I'm fortunate that it happened today."

After a 16-4 run by St. Joseph's whittled the lead to 56-49, Godbold buried his fifth 3-pointer to restore the margin to double digits with 5:54 to play.

"We didn't know that Godbold would start until 20 minutes before the game," Hawks coach Phil Martelli said. "And in the second half, when he got going a little bit, I think that to be honest with you, again, we were feeling sorry for ourselves at the offensive end of the floor, and not really executing defensively."

The Hawks refused to fold, however, and twice got within four points - the final time on a layup by Ahmad Nivins with 3 1/2 minutes remaining.

But freshman Blake Griffin scored back-to-back baskets to extend the lead to 69-61 with 2:00 remaining and Oklahoma held on the rest of the way.

Griffin finished with 12 points for the Sooners, who shot 57 percent (24-of-42) from the floor.

It's definitely a great thing. Obviously, no one wants to go home in this tournament," Griffin said. "And to move on, and when a lot of people were saying that we weren't supposed to win, and St. Joseph's was supposed to upset us. It just kind of gave us some fire ... but you got to put it behind us and get ready for our next game."

Rob Ferguson scored 21 points for St. Joseph's, which was hurt by a dismal performance from leading scorer Pat Calathes, who had just six points on 2-of-11 shooting.

Calathes was the responsibility of Godbold, who was just as proud of his defensive performance as his offensive exploits.

"I tried to stay physical with him, and I'm glad that I got a chance to kind of push him out, and I was fortunate that he kind of missed some open shots," Godbold said. "He didn't get a good rhythm going."

Despite Calathes going scoreless in the first half, St. Joseph's grabbed a 19-16 lead on Ferguson's jumper from the corner with 8:00 left.

Ferguson, who had 11 points at the time, went to the bench shortly thereafter, and the Sooners capitalized.

Oklahoma closed the half with an 18-3 run, capped by Griffin's jumper with five seconds to go, to take a 34-22 lead into the locker room.

"Technically, it got away from us in the last 8:07 of the first half," Martelli said. "We had 13 possessions, six turnovers, 1-for-5 from the field and 1-for-4 from the foul line and then you're working your way back uphill."